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Tram Museum Aborted - 2

Blackpool's last toastrack being loaded on to a flatbed trailer inside Rigby Road Depot preparatory to transfer to the Crich tramway museum. The trolleymast lies on the floor of the frame with some of the crossbench seats remaining as a pattern for replacements in restoration. Image Copyright : John Woodman Archive

Blackpool Council in the early 1970s had considered the visitor value of creating a tram museum, with recommendations of the then Attractions and Amenities Committee. Of course by that time most of the remaining historic representative types had been gifted to the Tramway Museum Society and despatched to the Society's Museum at Crich. There proved to be an embarassment of riches for the Society which had already faced urgent disposals from the Glasgow, Leeds and Sheffield tram systems within a four year period - in addition to Blackpool's own street tram route closures and consequent downsizing of its fleet from 1961 onwards. A result was loss of several classic cars which otherwise may have been saved. Fortunately other schemes such as the Hayling Island project (which acquired Marton Vambac 11), and the Carlton Colville museum picked up as it were Standard 159. US trolley museums also showed an interest with two further Standard cars (48 and 147) seperately being 'exported'. Of course, 147 has since returned thanks to former BTS Managing Directors, Tony Depledge and Steve Burd.

At the time of the Council's determination in 1972 a question mark hung over the disposal of former Television Car 757 which remained stored. Consideration was given to a possible museum site at Stanley Park where old aircraft hangars offered a potential home to a collection. Then, as now, the costs of any such initiative attracted little support combined with the fact that by 1971 any display or exhibition would bear little resemblance to the Blackpool collection already established at Crich. It was thus decided to offer the remains of the last open 'toastrack' to the TMS for future restoration and it duly departed Rigby Road in 1972. Of course it has since been brought back to life in its original livery and appearance - representing what had been a sizeable class of this type (the largest in the UK by far). Returned to its original fleet number 166 - the tram is particularly important having been built in Blackpool's tram workshops along with five other examples. *As a footnote the FHLT made their own exploratory discussions with the management of what became Blackpool Zoo at Stanley Park. This revealed possible land being available adjacent to the existing attractions but it was decided not to proceed given the ongoing actions of the Lancastrian Transport Trust and an emergent initiative at Rigby Road.

Over forty years later toastrack 166 in display condition on a damp day at the Museum prior to entering service during 2016. The cross bench seats are full width whilst the safety fender is per the original format of the 1920s.

Photo : John Woodman

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